9 Cheap Ways To Fill Raised Garden Beds In 2024

2 min read

Raised garden beds are a great way to grow plants in limited spaces, but filling them with soil can be expensive. In this article, we will explore some cheap ways to fill raised garden beds in 2024. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, these tips will help you save money while creating a fertile environment for your plants.

1. Composting

One of the cheapest ways to fill raised garden beds is by using compost. Composting your kitchen scraps, yard waste, and other organic materials not only helps reduce waste but also provides nutrient-rich soil for your plants. Start a compost pile or use a compost bin to create your own compost. Once it’s ready, mix it with existing soil or use it as a top layer in your raised beds.

2. Leaf Mulch

Another inexpensive option is to use leaf mulch. Collect fallen leaves from your yard or neighborhood and shred them into small pieces. Spread a layer of leaf mulch on the bottom of your raised beds to improve drainage and add organic matter to the soil. This method is especially beneficial for plants that prefer well-draining soil, such as herbs and vegetables.

3. Grass Clippings

If you have a lawn, don’t throw away your grass clippings. Use them to fill your raised garden beds. Grass clippings are high in nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for plant growth. However, make sure to spread a thin layer of grass clippings and mix them with other materials to avoid compacting the soil. Too much grass clippings can create a dense, anaerobic environment that hinders plant growth.

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4. Straw

Straw bales can be an affordable option for filling raised garden beds. Break the bales apart and use the straw as a base layer in your beds. Straw is lightweight, retains moisture, and decomposes slowly, providing a long-lasting source of organic matter. It also helps prevent weed growth and insulates the soil, keeping it warm during cooler months.

5. Newspaper and Cardboard

If you have access to old newspapers or cardboard boxes, use them to line the bottom of your raised beds. Wet the newspapers or cardboard to prevent them from blowing away, then add a layer of soil on top. This method helps suppress weeds, retain moisture, and gradually breaks down over time, enriching the soil with organic matter.

6. Manure

If you have access to animal manure, it can be an excellent addition to your raised garden beds. Manure provides essential nutrients and improves soil structure. However, it’s important to use well-aged or composted manure to avoid burning your plants with excess nitrogen. Mix the manure with other materials like compost or straw for a balanced and nutrient-rich soil mix.

7. Mushroom Compost

Mushroom compost, made from the waste products of mushroom cultivation, is a cost-effective option for filling raised garden beds. It is rich in organic matter and nutrients, making it ideal for growing a variety of plants. However, be cautious when using mushroom compost as it can be alkaline. Test your soil’s pH levels and amend accordingly to ensure optimal growing conditions.

8. Local Soil Amendments

Check with your local gardening centers or agricultural extension offices for affordable soil amendments. They may offer low-cost or even free options such as compost, wood chips, or aged manure. These local resources can help you fill your raised garden beds without breaking the bank.

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9. Combination Approach

Lastly, consider using a combination of the above methods to fill your raised garden beds. Mix compost, leaf mulch, grass clippings, straw, and other materials to create a well-balanced soil mix. Experiment with different ratios to find what works best for your plants.


Filling raised garden beds doesn’t have to be expensive. By utilizing compost, leaf mulch, grass clippings, straw, newspaper, cardboard, manure, mushroom compost, and local soil amendments, you can create a fertile and cost-effective environment for your plants. Get creative and experiment with different materials to find the perfect soil mix for your raised beds. Happy gardening!